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What Dolores Taught Me at WalMart Register 11

This morning while buying groceries at Walmart for my housewarming party, I felt happy. I also felt trepidatious. There have been some major changes in my life over the past couple of months, and I’ve been doubting myself. As I shared in a previous article, I lost my way a bit at the end of last year and became depressed. I’m thrilled to say that therapy, Lake Austin Spa Resort, medication, more exercise, empathetic support from my readers, awesome parents, a great kid, the best husband in the world and self-awareness have all helped me to overcome depression. I am feeling steadier now and somewhat ready to take on the world. But I’ve been asking myself questions like

Is my agent going to hate my book proposal?

Can I sustain this simpler life I’ve been preparing for and still be satisfied?

What if no one tunes in to my new podcast and I’m just talking to myself like an idiot?

Can I get booked to speak on things I am passionate about or will I just be hired to cover the same topics forever?

All of these questions boil down to: Do I secretly suck? Am I too chicken to take the plunge?

Enter Dolores.

In the midst of loading my goods on the conveyor belt at register 11, as I scrunched up my brow to decide if I had gotten all the items I needed to make jambalaya, Dolores started talking to me. I’ve had many jobs in my life, but I have never been a cashier at a grocery store and for some reason, I’ve always wanted to try it. I feel like it would be tough work but really interesting to get to speak to fifty different people each day. I asked Dolores how long this Walmart had been open, and she told me 17 years. I was surprised because it looks very new. Then Dolores launched into her story.

She was captivating.

Dolores glowed with pride as she described the remodel that had happened in the store last year. She and her coworkers had helped make it happen, and they were ecstatic with the results. When I asked Dolores how long she had worked at that store, she responded proudly - 17 years! Dolores told the story of how her friend had applied but didn’t get the job due to paperwork issues. Her friend suggested that Dolores apply. At the time, Dolores was working at a fast food restaurant, often from open till close. Dolores applied and told me how excited she was when she got the job so quickly after her interview. I asked her if this job was better than the fast food joint and she exclaimed - “Oh yes! Plus it has benefits and everything.”

Dolores waxed poetic about how much she enjoyed her job, how good God is, how much she liked the people she worked with. I even saw her smiling manager a couple aisles away.

I asked if she lived close by and she said yes. She’d made a specific decision to live very close by because her car wasn’t always the best, so if anything ever happened to it, she could just walk to work. I asked if she had different jobs at the store during her 17 years and she said no, she had done the same job. There was no denying that she was excellent at her job.

She smiled at me when she spoke, all the while expertly checking items in the register and neatly bagging them with the efficiency that only 17 years experience could bring. Dolores inspired me, so I went back inside and asked her if I could please take a picture and write a blog about her for HuffPost. Dolores was a bit hesitant and also wasn’t familiar with Huffington Post. When I asked if I could email it to her, we decided I should call her instead since I’m not sure she remembered what her email address was. Thank you Dolores for allowing me to write this!

Here is what I learned from Dolores this morning:

She lived near her work to reduce the possibility of missing a shift. She reminded me to simplify and set up my life in a way that makes sense. Dolores reminded me to take care of myself.

If Dolores can go from fast food to Walmart, then I can make the move from just speaking on social media to speaking on social media, business and life. Dolores was brave to have the guts to go from the known to the unknown, and she ended up more successful and content. We must not become complacent with our happiness. It is our own responsibility to seek joy and no one can make these moves for us.

For example, I’m so grateful that my work in social media is respected and still sought after but I’ve realized that this is not enough for me. I want to speak and consult on more aspects of business including company culture, how to manage millennials, leadership, women empowerment and more. I want to explore and speak about life on a real, personal level in the hopes that I might inspire people the way Dolores inspired me today.  

She showed me how to stop and be grateful for my current situation. I’ve been doing the same kind of work for 9 years now, and that is by far the longest job I’ve had. The job has certainly changed, and I need to change too to stay excited. Dolores was invigorated by a job that had remained the same for 17 years. Attitude is everything!

Its extremely gratifying to find inspiration from the people we meet everyday that we would usually ignore. Stop and speak to someone, listen to someone, open your eyes to different types of people and you may be inspired. We talk often about helping others but sometimes the universe puts people in our path to help us. We are often too distracted to acknowledge or accept the wisdom of strangers. Dolores was my teacher today and I am grateful.  

If in the comments below you make this story about how much you love or hate Walmart, then you have missed the point. No, Walmart is not my sponsor and yes, I am fan. But, this story is about unexpected teachers crossing our path and showing us the way if we only take the time to listen. Who was your unexpected teacher recently and how did they inspire you?

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.